Saturday, August 20, 2011

Sunshine and Flowers

What a difference a little sunshine makes! It's been grey and rainy for  a week. Now golden light flows in Stonehenge -like through the triangular window and makes me want to leap out of bed. The city streets are ablaze with blossom trumpeting the arrival of spring, everyone smiles and I want to hug everyone.  

Nice Touch!

I'll swear this pig smiled at me when I went past. Hope it brings me luck!

Thursday, August 18, 2011

More Weird and Wonderful Signs

The top four are some we have bagged on the run, but I owe all the rest to my darling sister who has kindly forwarded all her Spam. Thanks Sis, they do rather brighten up a dreary day.

At an undisclosed location in Canberra
They are a bit weird those Queenslanders. This car was parked two metres from the kerb and also
carries a "Little Dude on Board" T -shirt in its rear window.

'Bye for now,

Cheers Roni


 Postbox. Sigh!
 This is  for all you young ones out there. I bet you always wondered what this

quaint piece of street furniture was. No, it's not a brightly coloured rubbish bin. 

More Mail.
I got another letter this week which didn't demand money with menaces. Well actually it wasn't for me. It was for the second last resident of this place and I accidently tore it open before I realised. It said. "Dear xxxx, Thank you for advising us of your new address at such and such."

Oh well, at least now I know where to send it.

Don’t Knock the Spam

Winter Daze

Ah Spam, friend of the friendless. It has the same role in life as late night shopping channels. When I don’t blog that’s all I get and it’s not all bad. On some days it’s the only contact with the outside world that I have.  I wouldn’t call it human contact. Usually it’s an automatic do –not-reply mailing that goes to thousands of others who might also once have had a momentary lapse of vigilance and signed on, accidently responded to a quiz or a customer survey  or forgot to untick the subscribe box.   

Today there’s a loyalty voucher from a clothing shop, another lot of specials from a bee keeping place whom I once asked about keeping bees – Need a cheap veil and smoker anyone?, Friends Reunited telling me about exciting new developments and Jetstar offering amazingly cheap flights to places you may never have heard of. I notice these do not include return flights. I get it – its $150 to get there, plus $500 in airport fees and fuel surcharges and $3,500 to get back, plus taxes, airport fees (they are probably still building it), $200 insurance for lost luggage and extra for your own air traffic controller and two badminton bats.

My sister did send me an actual letter. She felt sorry for me when I told her that the only mail I get these days has windows in it, so she thought it might be a nice change. Younger folk may not know about sending letters, but it was a quaint custom whereby people wrote by hand on bits of paper, carefully folded them and put them into envelopes and stuck on stamps, then walked them to the Post Office or a mail box -those mysterious red things that you can still see in a few older suburbs- and trusted to the miracle of Australia Post that one day they might be delivered. This added an extra dimension of mystery and excitement that Tweeters and Texters will never know. Like messages in bottles, you just never knew where or when your messages might turn up. Why only the other day I received a Christmas card dated 1983 from an uncle who died in 1989.[In fairness, I must admit that I have moved two or three times since then and this went to one of my old addresses].

 Imagine the thrill then, when you learned that somehow your good friend from Primary School had received your important message telling her about the new PE teacher you had a crush on five years ago, before he was charged with molesting minors and had to leave. It’s from hard copy such as this, that we craft history and biographies and feel that we really know something of  a person’s  character, though just as well handwriting analysis has fallen out of favour along with phrenology and reading entrails or people would think that when I write it’s from a drunk, psychotic left -handed chook on stilts. Somehow I can’t imagine all that happening with Tweets and SMSs, especially with that damn intuitive texting, though it could prove more entertaining.

There are even some days when I regret putting up the No Junk Mail sticker. You can tell a lot about society from its advertising material, not to mention acquiring a lust for things you never thought you needed such as a Meerkat Rain Gauge or a Donkey Salt and Pepper Shaker, a beer glass shaped like an upside down beer bottle or an amazing range of orthopaedic supports.

Yep! Bring on the Spam. It’s all the light reading I have left.

Tuesday, August 09, 2011

The Last Forest Protest?

This brochure could become historic
Could it really be true? I went along to a forest rally on Saturday. Since then Prime Minister Julia Gillard has announced a deal that will protect most of the most vulnerable areas but still allow a new Malaysian veneer mill and guarantee it supply until 2027. It will also provide compensation packages for people displaced from the forest industry.
Large sections of Tasmania’s population have literally been at loggerheads since industrial -scale clear -felling of native forests began in 1972 and we began supplying woodchips to Japan. Before that, every small town had a saw mill or two that employed a few people and provided timber for building and furniture factories. These timber mills had leases for ninety – nine years, something which they lost as soon as wood -chipping started.

 I won’t say traditional logging practices were pretty, but overall, the forest canopy wasn’t disturbed. Though the wildlife may have been locally displaced, it wasn’t driven from large swathes of bush at once, nor was it sprayed with atrazine. No –one had ever seen Devil’s Facial Tumour disease.  Birds, possums and other small creatures that lived in hollow trees, still had plenty of refugia and the waste returned to the soil. Patches of churned -up ground, fallen trees and dead branches were not so dissimilar to the normal cycles of the bush that they it did not regrow. They certainly didn’t leave great gaping scars, devoid of all other life except - years later, orderly rows of even –aged, fast -growing imported eucalypts.  With their mosses and fungi and ferns, many of the places which the Greens have struggled to preserve for their beauty are regrowth after selective logging. Nor did the saw millers and ‘fallers’ as they call them here, have the supply problems that they seem to be having now. 

 I never did understand why small mill owners thought they were on the same side as the big corporations that just come, pillage and leave. Oh, that’s right. It’s because they have been told that those awful tree huggers have locked everything up. They should be thankful. Otherwise there would be nothing left to fight over. Nor would there be anything left for future generations or for tourists to admire.
While employment in the timber industry has drastically declined, tourism has grown two and a half times. People do come to see our wildlife in the wild, the tall trees and the temperate rainforest in all its diversity, which they may never have heard about, had there not been this ongoing controversy. Not that you would get many red -blooded timber workers to swap their chainsaws and dozers for a tea towel.  That is the tragedy of our small rural towns. The only reason the timber industry as presently constituted has existed at all for the last few decades, is because it has been massively subsidised by the state. This is called corporate welfare. The Ta Anne Mill does at least represent downstream processing and a small amount of local employment in the North West. 

The ‘greenies’ are not the enemy whatever you may hear on talk – back radio or read in the full page ads in the paper or hear in the street in some pro -logging communities.  “Why aren’t those bludgers at work?” “Did you see that?” “They were using wood on their fire – bloody hypocrites.” And these are some of the nicer things that have been said. It is the scale and speed and the indiscriminate nature of clear -felling that is the enemy. Dedicated people have campaigned against this relentlessly over the years. They have been arrested, assaulted, vilified and fined. They are heroes not villains. Let’s keep our fingers crossed that they can now come down from the trees and take a well -earned rest. May there be peace in the forests at last.


Update 10/08/2011
Celebrations may be premature. The fat lady has not yet sung. On the news last night an angry contractor who services logging machinery vowed to keep up the fight.

The thing is, structural adjustment has been a feature of Australian life for several decades.
I do not recall the same folk shedding a tear for the 16,000 sacked by Ansett on one day in 2001, the 150 people now being retrenched by Ardmona and Heinz in the Goulburn Valley (also on last night's news), or the 2700 workers retrenched by Pacific Brands in 2009, often without even their entitlements such as wages and holiday pay, much less compensation.
Closer to home at Scottsdale, one of the epicentres of the current storm, where was the mourning for the 130 direct jobs lost in the potato industry when multinational Simplot moved on in 2003, after farmers had greatly increased production and purchased expensive equipment to enable supply to McDonald's and Kentucky Fried Chicken?

When the last tree has gone, or there is so much as a whiff of a better deal somewhere else, the corporations will shut up shop and move on, but I ask those who service the timber industry, what will you do then? You are only postponing the inevitable.

Not that I am entirely with the greens here either. I would like to see a small scale timber industry that harvests at a rate that does not destroy the basic character of our temperate rainforest, one of the few left in the world. One that makes use of our rare timber in a way that increases its value ten -thousandfold e.g. through the creation of designer furniture, rather than churning it up for toilet paper. A bit of firewood and some building timber would be nice as well, but while we do not have this in place, I am with you rather than the woodchip industry.

Monday, August 08, 2011

Getting a little dirt on my hands

OK. It doesn't look much now. Progress reports will follow

It's still raining. It must be three or four days now, but it's not quite as cold. I've just bought some fruit trees and put them in pots. I must be mad. I especially bought a place that didn’t need any work. No lawns to mow, no weeding, no pruning- only concrete and gravel - in case I had to go away. Now I have gone out and bought plants. It seems I’m just not happy unless I’m wallowing in dirt and breaking my nails and really they didn't cost much more than a kilo of bananas.

I’ve just heard that there’s a community orchard here. It sounds like a lovely idea, but since Neighbourhood Watch has been warning people about locking away their firewood and marking their wood so that it can be identified by police, I’m not very confident about leaving my babies alone in some open paddock unless they have armed guards.
The one consolation if anyone tries to steal them from here is that unless they are built like Arne Schwarznegger, they will give themselves a hernia trying to move them. 

One is an avocado. Now there’s optimism for you. They don’t even grow in this climate and I have never seen them on sale here before, but I’m having a bet each way. If it's a success, I might try a banana palm next. If not, it's quite a nice plant anyway and I’ve planted strawberries too, along with some spring bulbs and herbs. Should look nice if it all comes up.

 I must say I'm a bit disappointed in my perpetual lettuce. It has already expired; tossed its mortal coil*. All that's left is a soggy pile of wilted leaves. So much for eternity. It’s gone there already, but I’ll leave it there. Who knows, if the sun ever comes out again, it may yet rise from the dead. I'll pray for its resurrection. Otherwise it can be the start of a compost bin.

* Just had to use that semi colon there in honour of Imre Salusinszky who remarked eloquently on its sad decline at the weekend. (Weekend Australian News p.5)

Thursday, August 04, 2011

A Whiff of Spring - Auf der Spur des Fruehlings

This is just a little Hello. It's not quite spring yet, but the daffodils are out and so is the first spring blossom so I've ventured out of the cave. There isn't much to see yet, but the scent of spring is everywhere.
Remembering about waiting too long and putting things off, I called in on a lady I had asked years ago about some of the quaint street names around here - Salvator Place, Poets Road... etc. because she had written a little book about West Hobart.

Though in her nineties now, she was still going strong and has since published another book, her fifth so far - a historical novel about early Tasmania. I meant to ask her about some of the shops and old cottages but we were so busy talking about other things, I forgot all about it.

Living Treasure Joan Goodrick, Historian and Novelist

Joan's 2003 Novel -  That's her own artwork on the cover too

This little cottage dates from 1835. That's old by Australian standards!
Same cottage, side view

Sorry, no idea!

...or about this quaint little shop

This used to be the general store. Now it's a very upmarket salon

The lovely old sandstone church buildings make the place seem eternal

Another secret walkway
They will all give you a hear attack because they are so steep
A happy Spring to you all!

PS. Bananas are now $16.99 per kilo and have been blamed for our inflation - well the floods and the cyclone that flattened them anyway. I have just bought out of season strawberries instead. Only $ 4.99!  Surely we could do a bit of trade with Indonesia here. There were all kinds of wonderful bananas in Bali when I was there years ago - pink ones, white ones, short ones, long ones, Lady's Fingers, savoury ones and even ordinary ones and they were very cheap. Maybe we could ask the next lot of boat people to bring some. They have been coming here in great numbers.